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In November 1971, Spelman College hosted the first public exhibition of the paintings and drawings of Howardena Pindell. Since then, Pindell has become a pioneering artist, writer, curator and teacher. Some 44 years later, the artist returns with Howardena Pindell, a solo exhibition of her intricately layered mixed-media paintings and works on paper, on view at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art from Aug. 25 to Dec. 5, 2015.

Autobiography has been a compelling and guiding theme throughout Pindell's extensive career. Howardena Pindell, an original exhibition curated by Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., director of the Museum, and Anne Collins Smith, curator of collections for the Museum, will spotlight Pindell's dynamic works from 1974-1986 and explore how she blends her abstract formal sensibilities, personal memory and activism through the lens of life history.

“Howardena Pindell's work, which mirrors her life and experiences, is astute, attuned and richly textured,” explained Smith. “This special exhibition honors the Museum's mission and commitment to presenting work that is informed, innovative and relevant.”

The exhibition, featuring early works on paper, monumental paintings, her seminal video Free, White and 21 (1980), and important works from the Autobiography series, represents the breadth of Pindell's portfolio.

Pindell is known for her oblong and unstretched canvases that are often torn apart and stitched back together. Her detailed experimentation with hole-punched circles, hand-written numeration and personal postcards create atmospheric work that considers the relationship between chaos and logic, time and repetition, and force and movement. As a result, the painstaking compositions of her paintings reimagine the medium and its process. This exhibition celebrates a creative risk-taker, a seasoned traveler and an advocate for equality.

An influential figure in the art world for over 40 years, Pindell has remained committed to expanding opportunities for women artists of color. She has been fiercely devoted to life and career, art, activism and advocacy.  In the foreword to The Heart of the Question: The Writings and Paintings of Howardena Pindell, she said, “I sustain myself through sheer tenacity, as the art world does not want artists of color to be full participants. I work because it's my life's work. I have no other choice.”

Pindell was associate curator of prints and illustrated books at the Museum of Modern Art and the co-founder of A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn. In The Heart of the Question: The Writings and Paintings of Howardena Pindell (1997), a collection of her seminal essays, she applies cultural studies to the art world and also details her keen assessments of aesthetics, gender and race in art institutions around the world, and many social concerns.  

A professor in the art department at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, Pindell continues to teach graduate and undergraduate drawing, painting and seminar courses. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and a Painters and Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She holds two honorary doctorates, one from the Massachusetts College of Art and another from Parsons School of Design. She is represented by Garth Greenan Gallery.

On Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, at 6:30 p.m., the Museum will host An Evening with Howardena Pindell and Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell. Dr. Campbell, president of Spelman College, has made an indelible imprint on the cultural life of New York City and beyond as an innovative leader in education and the arts. The event will be a landmark conversation between two pioneering creative public intellectuals on visual art and the art world, autobiography and the creative process.

Howardena Pindell is made possible by the Wish Foundation and the LUBO Fund. Additional support is provided by the Fulton County Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts & Culture.


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